06/01/1847 - Crockett
Date: June 1, 1847
On the North Platte River, Wyoming:
Early in the morning, on Brigham Young's forty-sixth birthday, Wilford Woodruff visited the company dentist who tried to pull his tooth. It broke off and the root was left in his jaw, causing much pain.
The pioneers traveled five and a half miles and halted for the noon rest across the river from the ruins of an old trading post that still had a few chimneys standing. [They were across the river from a fort that had recently been burned to the ground. It had been occupied by John Baptiste Richard, who had guided the Mississippi Saints to Pueblo.] They turned their horses loose to feed in a ravine with luxuriant green grass.
In the afternoon they traveled six and a half miles and came to a point across from Fort Platte, a vacant fort crumbling into ruins. [This was Ford William.] Fort Laramie could be seen on the north bank of Laramie fork, about two miles to the south. They decided to establish the camp at 5:45 in the form of a V, on the bank of the North Platte.
Soon, two men came from the fort and were seen from across the river. "Revenue Cutter" was launched with Luke S. Johnson, John Brown, Joseph Matthews and Porter Rockwell. With great joy, they learned that the two men were Robert Crow and his son-in-law, George W. Therlkill, two of the Mississippi company of Saints who spent the winter at Pueblo with the sick detachments of the Mormon Battalion. [During the previous summer, the Mississippi Company traveled into Nebraska thinking that the pioneers were ahead of the to the west. As they approached Fort Laramie, they learned that the Saints were not ahead, but rather were back on the Missouri River. They headed south and spent the winter on the Arkansas River at Pueblo. John Brown, no doubt, was very happy to see them. He had led the Mississippi company to Pueblo during the previous year, returned to Mississippi, and then joined the pioneer company at Winter Quarters.]
The two men were brought across the river to meet with Brigham Young. They reported that they had been at Fort Laramie since May 16. They reported that the detachments of the Mormon Battalion would shortly receive their pay and planned to leave Pueblo about the first of June. [The detachment of the battalion had left Pueblo on May 24 and were at that time south of present-day Denver, Colorado.]
William Clayton wrote: "It caused us much joy to meet with brethren in this wild region of country and also because we should have some news from the brethren in the army." Wilford Woodruff added: "No one can imagine the joy of friends on meeting each other under such circumstances away from the abodes of white men where they are only visited by savages."
They reported the sad news that Melcher Oyler, Arnold Stevens, James Scott, and Mervin Blanchard had died since John Tippets and Thomas Woolsey had left Pueblo during the winter to return to Winter Quarters. They also said that Solomon Tindall was near death. Most of the other men were doing well and had regained their health during the winter. They had no news from the rest of the Mormon Battalion in California. They relayed the news that three traders from the mountains arrived at Fort Laramie six days earlier. Their animals had nearly starved to death because of lack of feed and there had been up to two feet of snow at the Sweetwater River more than 150 miles to the west. After giving their report, Brothers Crow and Therlkill returned to their families at the fort.
William Clayton calculated that they were 543 1/4 miles from Winter Quarters. They had made the journey to Fort Laramie in seven weeks. "We have arrived so far on our journey without accident except the loss of two horses by Indians and two killed. We have been prosperous on our journey, the camp are all in better health than when we left Winter Quarters and we see daily that the Lord blesses us and directs the movements of this camp as seemeth Him good and as is for our good and prosperity."
In the middle of the camp, in a large ash tree, was the bundled body of an Indian baby. It was tied between the two highest limbs of the treed. The bark was peeled off the tree below to prevent wolves from getting up.
Porter Rockwell visited Fort Laramie, came back and told the brethren that there were 18 men with their families living it in. They were mostly Frenchmen. It was learned that about three weeks earlier, a larger number of Crow Indians had come to the Fort in broad daylight and stolen many horses. Brigham Young called all the captains together to give instructions and to see that two men from each company of ten stand on guard while they were camped at this location while they made arrangements to cross the river. A crossing at this point would be needed because the Black Hills ahead would make it impossible for them to continue their journey on the north side of the North Platte. He suggested that they leave most of their plows at the fort and that they should immediately do their blacksmithing to mend their wagons as soon as possible. James Case, Shadrach Roundy, and Seth Taft were appointed to overhaul and select the plows to be taken ahead.
Winter Quarters, Nebraska:
Eliza R. Snow wrote: "This is truly a glorious time with the mothers & daughters in Zion altho' thrust out from the land of our forefathers & from the endearments of civiliz'd life." A great spiritual meeting was held during the evening at Lyman Leonard's home. Brother Leonard spoke about the evils in the American government and contrasted it with the happiness of the Saints. Sister Snow said, "Language cannot describe the scene."
Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:
Robert S. Bliss wrote: "June 1st 1847 ushers in another Summer 1 month & 1/2 more and we bid good by to Unkle Sam having it to say "You are the most exact Unkle we ever had.""
- Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 409
- Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 2, p.432
- William Clayton's Journal, p.205-08
- Excerpts from the Hitherto Unpublished Journal of Horace K. Whitney, Improvement Era, June, 1947, 371
- Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 15:54-55
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:192-93
- Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 176
- The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:94
Source: 150 Years Ago Today ©These materials have been created by David R. Crockett. Copies of these materials may be reproduced for teacher and classroom use. When distributing these materials, credit must be given to David R. Crockett. These materials may not be published, in whole or part, or in any other format, without the written permission of Mr. Crockett, Tucson Az, firstname.lastname@example.org.